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Dog-tired Growlers done in during marathon shootout

The Newfoundland Growlers
The Newfoundland Growlers - Contributed

Newfoundland winless in five straight, including first three games of six-game road swing

A long and frustrating weekend became a little longer, and a lot more frustrating for the Newfoundland Growlers Sunday afternoon in Portland, Me.

That’s where the Growlers lost their fifth game in a row and third in as many days as they fell 5-4 to the Maine Mariners in a shootout.

The five-game winless streak (0-3-2) is the longest of the season for Newfoundland. Before this skid, the team hadn’t lost two games in a row.

Sunday’s matchup between expansion teams wasn’t decided until after 18 shootout rounds. That meant there was no final result even after both teams went through their full complements of 16 skaters — 10 forwards and six defencemen.

It wasn’t until Maine’s Wade Murphy scored on his second shootout attempt (he had also scored earlier) that the contest came to a conclusion.

Murphy’s winning goal came just after the Growlers’ JJ Piccinich, who had beat Maine goaltender Chris Neil on his first attempt, was unsuccessful on his second one.

Newfoundland goalie Eamon McAdam stopped 12 of 17 attempts in the shootout, but the key might have been the timing of the Mariners’ shootout goals. The Growlers were successful on their seventh, eighth and 10th attempts (by Piccinich, Derian Plouffe and Todd Skirving) and any one of those would have served as the game-winner except for the fact Maine scored each subsequent time, thereby extending the exercise.

Adding to the Growlers' disappointment was the fact they appeared to have scored again on their 11th attempt when defenceman Evan Neugold deked Neil and slipped a backhand shot into the net. But Neil argued he had touched the puck with his stick before the goal, which would have automatically caused the play to end. After the officials conferred, they agreed, the goal was waved off and the shootout continued until Murphy's tally seven rounds later.

The North Division-leading Growlers (39-19-6) had opened the weekend (and a six-game road trip) with 4-1 and 6-4 losses to the Adirondack Thunder Friday and Saturday nights in Glen Falls, N.Y., and then had to make a four-plus hour bus trek to Portland for a Sunday afternoon matchup with the Mariners.

Despite the combination of a short turnaround, travel and playing for the third time in less than 70 hours, the Growlers seemed poised to claim what is proving to be an elusive victory, carrying a 4-2 lead into Sunday’s third period.

But a too-many-men penalty midway through the frame led to a power-play goal by Maine.

A minute later, the home side got a five-on-five marker from Dillan Fox, his second goal of day, a tying tally that would eventually lead to what was a scoreless overtime and then the marathon shootout.

Before 2,933 at the Cross Insurance Arena, Brady Ferguson of the Growlers and Drew Melanson of Maine (34-26-3) joined Fox with two-goal games.

Tyler Mayea and Josh Kestner had the other Newfoundland goals. Mayea’s was his first as a pro, while Kestner’s was his 20th of the season for the Growlers, who get a couple of precious days off before resuming their road trip Wednesday night in Manchester, N.H., against the Monarchs.

Dog Bites

Final shots Sunday were 40-37 in favour of Maine. Each team had three shots in overtime … The Growlers had just one power play Sunday, and it was an early one coming just 15 seconds after the opening faceoff, when the Mariners’ Michael McNicholas was sent off for slashing. Newfoundland’s Brady Ferguson scored seven seconds later. Maine went one-for-three with the man-advantage …The losses to Adirondack Friday and Saturday meant the Growlers went winless in their four-regular season games at the Cool Insurance Arena in Glens Falls, getting outscored 18-6 overall by the Thunder in the process … As of late, the Growlers have been rotating players through the reserve list, presumably to give them some days off down the stretch. On Sunday, the scratches included veteran defenceman Adam Pardy and leading scorer Zach O’Brien, who had scored his 26th goal of the season, also a team high, in Saturday’s loss to Adirondack … Despite the tightness of Sunday’s extended contest, one that saw Newfoundland’s Brady Ferguson finish with three points (and add a shootout goal), all three game stars were Mariners …

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